Serious discussion on climate change is overdue, or perhaps overdone. With so many authorities trivializing the effects of global warming, and with a series of unsuccessful attempts to defend the truth, the general public does not pay heed to the severities of climate change anymore. This is why Greta Thunberg is so exciting. The things she says about climate change are all too familiar and yet, the unprecedented presence she brings is turning heads once more.
The clarity with which she delivers her ideas makes us forget that English is her second language, and that she is only 16 years old. Thunberg was born in 2003 in Stockholm, Sweden, and first came to hear about climate change when she was just eight. Upon realizing that nothing was being done to prevent it, she became lethargic and depressed. She was later diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), along with selective mutism, to which she says: “… that basically means I only speak when it is necessary. Now is one of those moments”.
Her journey to becoming an activist started within her family. She convinced her parents to reduce the family’s carbon footprint by boycotting air travel and becoming vegan. Their encouragement of Thunberg’s initiative and adoption of the corresponding lifestyle changes are frequently credited in her speeches. In late 2018, she officially started school climate strikes and public speeches, which got the attention of local climate activists. In an interview with Democracy Now!, Thunberg stated that she got the idea of a school strike from teen activists who had organized the March for Our Lives movement in February 2018.
Even with snide tweets and backlash from conservatives,Thunberg remains unfazed and simply marks them as being irrelevant to the conversation. She calls for civil disobedience and seeks actions from global leaders. “We are striking because we have done our homework, and they have not.” This century has seen many influencers calling for urgent action, but Thunberg does so with the reminder that obsolescence is hurtling towards the deniers.